Kosuke Morita, researcher of Riken (Institute of Physical and Chemical Research) who led a group discovered element 113, points to a periodic table of the elements during a press conference at the institution in Wako, Japan, June 9, 2016
Everything in the universe is made of matter, which is anything that takes up space. The main things making up matter are elements. There are more than 100 elements. These are the simple ingredients from which most everything is made. Elements cannot transform into each other. They cannot be simplified further.
They are listed on a chart called the periodic table. Now, we can say hello to a new element, oganesson. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry maintains and updates the periodic table and just announced it had approved the names of four new elements. This was the result of an almost yearlong naming process.
Late in 2015 the IUPAC announced that after years of research, four elements, numbered 113, 115, 117 and 118, were going to be added to the periodic table. All elements have protons, electrons and neutrons. A proton is a tiny positively charged particle, while electrons have a negative charge and neutrons have no charge. If an element has 113 protons, its number is 113 and if it has 115 protons, then the number is 115.
In June, 2016, IUPAC announced the possible names. For the next five months, people sent in names for the new elements. There are some ground rules: the names must refer to a scientist, mythology, substance, elemental property or place. So, people could not really name a new heavy metal element after a heavy metal rock singer. Still, a few people tried.
"Overall, it was a real pleasure to realize that so many people are interested in the naming of the new elements, including high school students, making essays about possible names and telling how proud they were to have been able to participate in the discussions," Jan Reedijk, president of IUPAC's Inorganic Chemistry Division, said in a statement Wednesday.
On November 28, the organization released an updated periodic table. It is set to be ratified at the organization's meeting in July 2017.
And The Winners Are ...
From the official IUPAC announcement, the elements are:
Tennessine and symbol Ts, for the element 117; and
Oganesson and symbol Og, for the element 118.
The scientists, who discovered the elements, proposed the accepted names. Three of the names, tennessine (Tennessee), nihonium (Japan) and moscovium (Moscow) are where the scientists' laboratories are located as the Washington Post reported in June. Oganesson is in honor of Yuri Oganessian, a Russian nuclear physics professor, at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research.
Nihonium was the first element to be given a name with Japanese origin. "The periodic table is a great legacy in chemistry. I'm filled with deep emotion that there is an element with a Japanese name," Kyushu University chemist Kosuke Morita, who led the discovery of nihonium, said in a conference on Thursday according to the Japan Times.
Nihonium existed only in the laboratory for a few fractions of a second. It kept reacting to other elements (such as ones in the air) and would change too quickly to be observed. Scientists first created this element in 2004, by bashing zinc ions with the element bismuth. It took two more years of work, in 2005 and again in 2012 for the Japanese researchers to prove Nihonium really existed.